The best skiing and riding of the year has arrived | NevadaAppeal.com

The best skiing and riding of the year has arrived

Sam Bauman
For the Nevada Appeal

All this week has been ideal for snowsporting. The sun is bright, the snow is still deep, the crowds are gone and only the locals and a few Brits are on the trail, plus this skier who has been sidelined for almost a month for eye surgery – removal of cataracts from both my eyes.

When one ages, the lenses in the eyes become clouded. Nobody know why, but they do and vision declines, nights are not as easily driven and prescription glasses become a problem. Happily, modern surgery can fix the problem and with me it was two operations one week apart, and the staying off the slopes to not risk injury to the new lenses.

And so this week I returned to the hills, without prescription glasses, just plain old ski goggles. And it was a delight – everything sharp and clear, no fooling with goggles over glasses. Just skiing – and it was pure pleasure as I haven’t experienced in a long time.

The snow was deep, the runs at Heavenly wide and well groomed (maybe not so wide in the canyons) and all was well in the ski and rider world.

No line at the Stagecoach Express, just a couple of folk ahead at Comet and then a few more on Dipper. The Comet run was practically deserted; ditto Dipper and even more so on Galaxy, where the old two-seater chair rattle along, hopefully to be replaced this coming summer. That’s after Heavenly builds a new J chair to link the top of the Gondola to Nevada for when the Sky Express is on wind hold.

So the Ski God’s in his lair and all is well.

SPRING SKIING AND CORN SNOW COMING

It’s not quite time for corn snow to appear. That’s the snow formed when snow melts during the day, freezes again over night and the next day forms corn-sized crystals. We haven’t had enough of the hot-cold cycles yet, but corn is coming.

And skiing corn is a bit different that running on plain packed powder. It’s much like skiing or riding on fresh powder; you use powder techniques largely. That means skiing on both skis, keeping them parallel and steering through the turns. I cheat a little and lead with the uphill ski, but you don’t have to do that if you’re in good form. And just like skiing powder, the corn will slow you down a bit.

Spring skiing also means changing the usual timing. It’s important to hit the slopes early while the snow is still firm, and it’s equally important to get off the hill when the snow softens up and water pools form.

And if you’re like most snowsporters you probably haven’t waxed recently. Do so now, using a wax that is designed for spring outings. Remember, you wax not just for speed but also to make turns easier. And the wax filling the P-Tex. pores is critical now with more water under the ski or board.

Among the great pleasures of spring skiing is deck skiing. Find a good deck and bask in the sun, or a pile of rocks where you can sit and just enjoy. My favorite decks are at Mt. Rose, both the old ones and the new ones at that glassed-in lodge on the Slide Mountain side. Heavenly’s got a couple of decks – at the bottom of Patsy’s (not exactly a deck, true, but outside) and beside the top of the gondola, and over at East Peak. Kirkwood’s Red Lodge deck is fine, although the plaza were tickets are sold is also nice. Diamond Peak’s deck wraps around the lodge and the deck at the top of Lakeview lift offers awesome views of Lake Tahoe.

Where else? Alpine Meadows has fine, large deck at the top of the base lodge stairs, fine place to watch the sporters on the facing runs. Sugar Bowl has a couple of decks: one at the old gondola loading parking lot and another up on the hill. Sierra-at-Tahoe’s decks are fine, one at the base lodge and the other up on the east lodge.

TIP OF THE MOMENT

I noticed Tuesday that I wasn’t getting my skis carving very well and a passing instructor pointed out that I was starting to carve my turn after the apex rather than getting the edge in quickly. Because of the late carve I was building up speed more than I liked. So I remembered what Michael Rogan: Once said to me: Finish your turns and you won’t have to worry about slowing down.

OK, so I may not count as the fastest skier on the hill, but skiing is all about turning anyhow.

And it’s so nice to be back on the hill without those darned glasses.

• Contact Sam Bauman at 841-7818 or at sambauman@att.net.